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Full text of "NightRider"

224

picious and trustful. In his many absences she tried to hold
the farm together, but when he was at home she devoted all
her energies to pleasing him. After her sister, Ruth, whom
she considered a mere child, had eloped with an unknown
and penniless young man from Arkansas, she increased the
rigour of her devotions to her father. And when, shortly
after her sister's marriage, General Burnham was defeated for
re-election and began to fail in health, her abnegation became
almost complete. She rarely left his side. She read to him
much, novels for the most part, but tried to keep the news-
papers away from him for fear that they would upset him. She
would bring flowers to him from the unworked garden by the
house, and say, in the coaxing voice of one speaking to a
child, "See, papa, see, aren't they pretty this year?" Or she
would comb and brush his luxuriant long hair, and stroke his
fair, almost unseamed forehead, and pat his still yellow mous-
taches. Then, sometimes, he would take her hands and,
while she knelt beside him, hold them gently, and say in his
vibrant, melancholy voice: "I've seen a great deal of the
world, my chick, I'm an old man, and I've seen a great deal,
pomp and circumstance and wealth and honour and valorous
deeds, but—and what I say I know to be true—a kind and
loving heart is the greatest thing in the world. And you
have a loving heart, my Lucy." At such a moment, so great
was her joy, she felt repaid for everything.

Her own youth was passing. Young men from the section
had courted her, but one after another she had dismissed
them. Their attentions had, at first, been pleasant and flat-
tering to her, but she would say to herself, and to them, " I
must take care of papa; not everyone has a papa like mine."
But the feeling grew in her—and more rapidly and firmly
after the ili-advised marriage of her sister—that all the young
men were beneath her. Or, more accurately, that not one
was worthy to be brought to papa as his son-in-law. After her
sister died, down in Mississippi, and some church ladies down
there wrote and inquired if they should send the little child,
she dismissed the last of the young men. She absorbed the